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Thursday, September 17, 2020

White Sox’ Tim Anderson: A straight-up superstar — and the best player in Chicago?

Anderson is in his finest hour yet. Must we amend that to “quarter-hour”? Fine, but the fact stands: He’s a superstar. If you haven’t fully wrapped your head around that yet, don’t worry. You will soon.

His batting average is a tidy .377.  His output is a rare combo of high batting average with pop, lots of K’s, yet almost no BB’s.

Nasty Nate Posted: September 17, 2020 at 01:38 PM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: batting average, tim anderson

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   1. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: September 17, 2020 at 02:32 PM (#5977256)
His batting average is a tidy .377

And his BAbip is an even tidier .435! (It was .399 last year, and .352 for his career, a whopping 78 points above his actual BA of .284.)
   2. The Mighty Quintana Posted: September 17, 2020 at 03:08 PM (#5977272)
Is there a recent comp for someone able to sustain a .300 average with that kind of K/BB ratio (6:1)?
   3. Itchy Row Posted: September 17, 2020 at 03:16 PM (#5977274)
According to Stathead, the only player with multiple .300 seasons with K:BB ratios of 5:1 or higher is Levi Meyerle in 1872 and 1875. His BB column says zero for both years. Anderson's 2019 is only the eighth season like that since 1900.

At 7:1, the only .300 seasons since 1882 are Anderson's 2019, Shawon Dunston's 1997, and Benito Santiago's 1987.

Anderson's career K:BB rate is 7.15:1. The only players with a 7:1 career rate and 2000 PA are Anderson (career .284 BA) and two 19th Century guys- Silver Flint (.236) and pitcher Pud Galvin (.201.) With a 1000 PA minimum, Anderson has a 20-point BA lead over Jorge Alfaro, who has a 21-point lead over third place Adalberto Mondesi. Anderson is also the career BA leader (1000+ PA) for 6:1 and 5:1. He's third behind Starling Marte and Homer Bush for 4:1.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: September 17, 2020 at 03:21 PM (#5977278)
Is there a recent comp for someone able to sustain a .300 average with that kind of K/BB ratio (6:1)?
I don't think so. Blackmon and Jose Abreu manage a decent average with high K/BB ratios, but 2019-2020 Anderson seems to be unique.

Edit:
At 7:1, the only .300 seasons since 1882 are Anderson's 2019, Shawon Dunston's 1997, and Benito Santiago's 1987.
By coincidence, Dunston and Santiago's averages were literally .300. Anderson is north of .340 in the 162 games since the start of the 2019 season.
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: September 17, 2020 at 03:45 PM (#5977286)
In other low-walk statistical oddities, Byron Buxton now has 12 HR's and just one base-on-balls.
   6. DL from MN Posted: September 17, 2020 at 04:16 PM (#5977298)
Anderson is killing the Twins
   7. Rally Posted: September 17, 2020 at 04:25 PM (#5977302)
Lets's try a Stathead search.

Career BABIP, at least 2000 PA, with a k-w ratio more than 4:1

1. Chris Johnson .353
2. Anderson .352
3. Starling Marte .342
4. Javy Baez .335

Bo Jackson, at .320, is #8. Any excuse to talk about Bo is warranted.
   8. asinwreck Posted: September 17, 2020 at 05:39 PM (#5977318)
It's fun watching him hit, even when he gets fooled by the pitch.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: September 17, 2020 at 05:40 PM (#5977319)
FWIW, he's dropped his Ks substantially in 2019-20. A K-rate of 20% is still nothing to brag about but it's a lot better than 27%. His BB cratered last year to retain that awesome K/BB but this year he's back to 5% walks (hitting 370 with power will get you a few more walks most of the time).

I had a guy in OOTP/BM who was a 10 (or whatever) on BA and power and zip on discipline. He'd regularly hit around 330/340/800 with a couple hundred Ks easy while playing a solid CF. Not sure what their formula for MVP was but he musta won 10 of the things. So that's who this Anderson reminds me of.
   10. Itchy Row Posted: September 17, 2020 at 05:40 PM (#5977320)
The Sox just clinched a playoff spot.
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2020 at 06:47 PM (#5977333)
I've never heard of someone being called a superstar based upon less than 1/3rd of a season of stats... heck I'm still not sold on a lot of the youngsters yet, even with a much better track record (Soto, Acuna, Yas, Devers, Vlad, Tatis etc.... and that isn't even accounting for pitchers) You need a minimum of two full seasons to reach superstar status at that level... until then you are a superstar in waiting.... (all star is a 5 war season, he hasn't done that yet, although this season he has performed at that level+)

   12. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2020 at 06:54 PM (#5977335)
The Sox just clinched a playoff spot.


I haven't looked at "magic numbers" but I'm assuming the Rays and A's will clinch in the next couple of days. (did a google search, the Rays and A's are 3 away......although the A's are only 4 away from clinching the division, even better than the Dodgers 6)

Edit: that is going into today games.

with a doubleheader today,it's possible the Rays also clinch today. (I assume if the Rays sweep and the Mariners lose then the Rays clinch.... two of that looks likely right now..as both the Mariners are losing late and the Rays are winning late in their games) (Baltimore was the other team tied with the Mariners going in, so they are no longer contenders against the Rays)
   13. Walt Davis Posted: September 18, 2020 at 12:04 AM (#5977414)
#11: It's the hometown paper (well, if we want to refer to Chicago as a "town") and, I think you'll agree, "Tim Anderson, straight-up solidly above-average player (probably)" does not have much of a ring to it.
   14. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: September 18, 2020 at 01:03 AM (#5977420)
He's fun to watch.
   15. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: September 18, 2020 at 02:44 AM (#5977422)
At 7:1, the only .300 seasons since 1882 are Anderson's 2019, Shawon Dunston's 1997, and Benito Santiago's 1987.


Was Tim Anderson also on the 2002 Giants?
   16. dejarouehg Posted: September 18, 2020 at 07:51 AM (#5977425)
As an ardent Cubs fan, and someone who doesn't love the bat flips and other look-at-me antics of Tim Anderson (and many others,) I will say this...

He is not only the best player in Chicago, (is anyone really even close?) but IMO, one of the 5 best players in the game.

And, I'm getting used to the look-at-me stuff - don't like it, but I think this guy is must-see TV.
   17. Rally Posted: September 18, 2020 at 08:09 AM (#5977426)
Was Tim Anderson also on the 2002 Giants?


Nope, the little kid seen crossing home plate in that world series was this guy.
   18. Adam Starblind Posted: September 18, 2020 at 08:12 AM (#5977428)
heck I'm still not sold on a lot of the youngsters yet, even with a much better track record (Soto, Acuna, Yas, Devers, Vlad, Tatis etc.... and that isn't even accounting for pitchers) You need a minimum of two full seasons to reach superstar status at that level... until then you are a superstar in waiting....


Soto has two full seasons worth of games and a career 149 OPS+. This season it's 208. I think we can be comfortable with him.

His most-similar through age 20 list (last season) is extraordinary: Conigliaro, Mantle, Robinson, Harper, Trout, Griffey Jr., Pinson, Kaline, Cedeno, Ott (not in that order).
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 18, 2020 at 10:48 AM (#5977449)
(well, if we want to refer to Chicago as a "town")
If it was ok with Sinatra, it’s ok with me.
   20. The Honorable Ardo Posted: September 18, 2020 at 12:05 PM (#5977469)
Anderson's approach raises an interesting puzzle: Do elite hitters *have to* strike out so often in the modern game (because the trade-off would be too much weak contact)?
   21. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 18, 2020 at 12:23 PM (#5977471)


I've never heard of someone being called a superstar based upon less than 1/3rd of a season of stats...


Well, he led the league in batting average last year with a 128 OPS+. "Superstar" may be overselling it but that's very good from a shortstop (it's in line with what Jeter did in his 20s, with more power and fewer walks),. The fact that he's kept it up and is actually performing better this year gives some confidence that last year wasn't just a fluke.
   22. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: September 18, 2020 at 12:40 PM (#5977476)
He is not only the best player in Chicago, (is anyone really even close?) but IMO, one of the 5 best players in the game.

First, no, he's not one of the 5 best in the game and not sure it's that close. Is he a top 5 SS even, considering how loaded that position is?

As for the best in Chicago part, it's not really an interesting question but one that is brought up a lot locally. Last year, he was a full 2 wins (by fWAR) behind his teammate Moancada and 1.5 behind Giolito and would have been tied for 5th on the Cubs with Jose Quintana. In his favor, he did that in a year where he missed almost 40 games but also, he missed almost 40 games last year. In this freak year, he's still behind Abreu (and Darvish from the Cubs).

So, to answer your comment, no, he's not the best player in Chicago but he's in the argument for top 5 in Chicago; you could argue he's having one of the best years of any Chicago player this season (but best is probably Darvish at the moment). Considering they're the same age and play the same position, I'd probably still take Javy ahead of him based on history (in spite of Javy's down year considering Javy has been better every season except this one); I also wouldn't be surprised for it to be possible as soon as next year he's not even one of the best 3 players on his team (Moancado and Giolito could both re-pass him and Robert is surely on track to blow past him at some point).
   23. Rally Posted: September 18, 2020 at 01:39 PM (#5977488)
Do elite hitters *have to* strike out so often in the modern game (because the trade-off would be too much weak contact)?


D.J. LeMahieu doesn't think so.
   24. Darren Posted: September 18, 2020 at 02:40 PM (#5977506)
He's performing great right now, but Abreu's performing better this year, according to bWAR. If we're talking true talent, I'm inclined to go with Bryant, Rizzo, Robert, or Moncada.
   25. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 18, 2020 at 03:38 PM (#5977518)
Soto has two full seasons worth of games and a career 149 OPS+. This season it's 208. I think we can be comfortable with him.
Soto hangs out with the Inner-Circle Guys on the Age-21 Leaderboard:
On-Base Plus Slugging (Last column is PA)
1. Ted Williams 1.041 1338
2. Jimmie Foxx 1.015 1302
3. Mel Ott .986 2064
4. Juan Soto .964 1302
5. Mike Trout .948 1490
6. Frank Robinson .920 1345
7. Eddie Mathews .907 1274
8. Alex Rodriguez. .900 1523
9. Ronald Acuna Jr. .897 1202
10. Mickey Mantle .881 1552


   26. Walt Davis Posted: September 18, 2020 at 07:20 PM (#5977562)
Yeah, I think we can be pretty confident about Soto's bat. His defense hurts his overall value but there are a few guys on that list not exactly known for their defense either -- but 3 CF, a SS and a 3B means it's not a bunch of hacks either. By "confident" I don't necessarily mean he's gonna be regularly putting up 170 OPS+ but he's gonna hit.

Do elite hitters *have to* strike out so often in the modern game (because the trade-off would be too much weak contact)?

Ummm ... Anderson used to K at 27%, he's now down to 20% which while below league-average is hardly Bill Buckner. In that sense he's Javy Baez with better contact ability.

If you want examples of elite hitters that didn't K and had power, you want Pujols and Bonds among reasonably modern players. Still it's about finding the balance that works for you. Here are some on-contact BA and SLG:

Anderson 459/733 (2020 only, the 459 not sustainable, 359/565 career which is fine but not special)
Soto 383/724
Pujols 340/621 (obviously much better at his peak)
Bonds 353/719
Baez 382/684 (career 103 OPS+)
Lindor 341/583 (career 118 OPS+)
Tatis 439/847 (not sustainable or he hits the ball much harder than Ruth/Thome)
MLB 333/570

Lindor vs Javy is the interesting comp IMO. Lindor Ks only about 14% of the time while still walking a bit less than league average while Javy Ks about 2% of the time and rarely walks. Javy hits the ball harder than Lindor but has the OPS+ 15 points lower and it's worse than that given Lindor has a 40-point edge in OBP. Javy works out to about 0 Rbat per season, Lindor to about 14.

So how much "softer" would Javy hit the ball if he could cut his K-rate to 20%? Would that result in a better OPS+ or Rbat? But in his case, his issue is more with pitch recognition than overly aggressive swing. He swings and misses a fair number in the zone but it's primarily swinging at crap that kills him. Presumably those two things are somewaht related (to generate that power, he decides super-early on a pitch) but many of his decisions are so absurd, and frequently doubly absurd in context, that it has to be about more than over-swinging.

It's also interesting that Lindor is not much different from Pujols, just a bit of SLG. His career OPS+ is 146 (wow, now below 150 ... he's also in danger of finishing with more K than BB now) on a 10.5% K rate. Javy arguable out-hits Bonds on contact and blows Pujols out of the water.

I often trot this out to make the point that this is how Ks hurt hitters. My old example was Jose Hernandez vs Miguel Tejada who were quite similar players except for K-rates and Hernandez had much better on-contact numbers (similar to Javy's if I recall right). But Hernandez had a career OPS+ of just 88 -- there's almost no way he wouldn't have benefited by trading power for contact. And given he was a solid defensive SS, even getting up to a 100 OPS+ would have made him an excellent player. It's obviously too much to think that Javy could possibly reduce his K-rate to 10% like Pujols no matter how weakly he started to swing but it seems likely there's a happier medium than where he is now.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: September 18, 2020 at 07:42 PM (#5977566)
And let's take that to Anderson. At his career 359/565 and career 24.4% K-rate, he's got a 103 OPS+ and about 3.5 Rbat per 650. If he kept his on-contact production while reducing the K-rate to 20%, he'd add 14 points of BA and 22 points of SLG, enough to bring his OPS+ up to about 113.

Now for 2019-20, he's been able to drop the K-rate while hiking the on-production rate which is a pretty rare trick from what I know. My "common sense" suggests to me that if you have a guy who hits the ball hard but on the ground, then adding some launch angle could lead to a huge breakout. But according to statcast that's not what's happened here. His EV has bounced around a bit but isn't anything special; his average LA has stayed much the same. His "sweet spot" numbers have risen. His xBA has gone through the roof but is also about 50 points lower than his actual BA the last couple of years. He may just be a freak but I'll WAG that it's more been an improvement in the swing -- more level or maybe just more consistent??

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